AMTRAK Chairman Tony Coscia was joined by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, Sen. Robert Menendez and Gov. Chris Christie at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Portal North Bridge in Kearny on Friday.
The officials broke ground on a $20 million portion of the larger Gateway project, which will double the height of the current Portal North Bridge.
“The replacement of the aging Portal Bridge is the first step toward ensuring a sound and efficient rail transportation system that will serve millions of riders now and well into the future,” Christie said. “This project is vital to our economy and the safety of millions of local commuters and people from around the world who use mass transportation along the Northeast Corridor. By working cooperatively with New York and federal lawmakers and officials, we hope to identify funding for this and the Hudson River tunnel projects that is fair and equitable for New Jersey taxpayers.”
The upgraded Portal North Bridge, according to Coscia, will serve to alleviate maritime congestion on the Hackensack River, congestion on the light rail and will finally allow passing trains to remain connected to the Northeast Corridor.
In its totality, the project includes a realignment of a 138 Kilovolt transmission point, installation of new fiber optic cable, construction of a finger pier, construction of a steel bridge over the Jersey City Municipal Utility Authority water main and the construction of a retaining wall west of the Frank Lautenberg Station at Secaucus Junction.
“We need to look no further than the century-old Portal Bridge to get a clear picture of the infrastructure crisis facing our nation,” Booker said. “For decades, the Portal Bridge has been a bottleneck for the entire Northeast Corridor, causing service delays that impact New Jerseyans and extend well beyond our region. Today marks a critical next step to moving the Gateway Program forward by providing New Jersey commuters much-needed relief, creating jobs, and laying the foundation for future economic growth.”
The Transportation Investment Generating Income Recovery grant program funded $16 million of the $20 million project. The New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund contributed the remaining $4 million.
“The start of construction on the Portal North Bridge demonstrates the commitment of the Gateway partners to this important project of national significance,” Coscia said. “A new Portal Bridge will improve reliability on the Northeast Corridor, benefiting both New York and New Jersey, as well as the region and nation as a whole.”
The existing Portal Bridge was built in 1910.
The Gateway Program also proposed a second two-track Portal South Bridge to support doubling rail capacity between Newark and New York.